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Software Maintenance and Support 

Types, Costs, Tools, and Skills

A software maintenance company with 14 years of experience in ITSM, ScienceSoft provides organizations in 30+ industries with maintenance and support services and ensure that they run like clockwork.

Software Maintenance and Support - ScienceSoft
Software Maintenance and Support - ScienceSoft

Maintenance and Support: What's the Difference?

Software maintenance is proactive and includes scheduled activities to address non-urgent issues or perform planned improvements. Software support is reactive and covers activities on handling urgent issues that can hamper software operation and cause downtimes. Most our clients opt for both types to ensure stability, scalability, high performance, and robust security of software in the long run.

In our guide, you will find information about the steps, benefits, required professionals, sourcing models, and costs of software maintenance and support services based on ScienceSoft's experience in such projects.

Software Maintenance and Support Setup Plan

The setup plan will differ depending on the specifics of the supported software and its underlying infrastructure, as well as the scope of the required support and maintenance activities.

Below are described the typical steps we at ScienceSoft take to set up maintenance and support activities.

Scope and resources estimation

Duration: 1-4 weeks

To determine the scope of the support and maintenance activities, we analyze:

  • The software’s related infrastructure.
  • Prospective new features and changes.
  • The current and planned user pool.

Then, we measure the projected scope against currently available in-house resources, such as dedicated IT specialists and maintenance tools.

ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft

Software maintenance and support process design

Duration: 4 weeks

Depending on the scope of the required activities, maintenance and support processes will comprise a combination of the following elements:

Reactive support (on-demand)

  • End user support (L1) – solving usage issues and minor problems, escalating more complex issues.
  • Application support (L2) – software troubleshooting, fixing its performance, configuration, and security issues.
  • Development support (L3/L4) – fixing software issues on the code and database level, customization, adding new features, software integration.

Proactive support (continuous)

  • Software availability, performance, security, and compliance monitoring and management.
  • QA activities (including regular code reviews).
  • Infrastructure optimization (e.g., cloud resource consumption optimization).

Depending on the support and maintenance activities, we define a set of KPIs to assess and optimize the process. A sample KPIs set includes: the number of changes/updates delivered, the number of changes/updates waiting in a backlog, the number of urgent changes, the time required to introduce a change to the software, user satisfaction score, software outage time, software availability, the number of tickets by type, first response time, and ticket time to resolution.

We map the software support and maintenance process in compliance with international technical standards set by ISO and IEC and take into consideration relevant security and privacy standards (e.g., GDPR and HIPAA).

IT Director at ScienceSoft

Choosing a sourcing model and implementation

Duration: 1-12 weeks

Model 1: in-house software maintenance

1. Hiring and training staff for software maintenance and support

Duration: 4-8 weeks

2. Tool selection and customization

Duration: 1-4 weeks

Relevant tools are chosen based on the type of software, the maintenance and support scope, the KPIs set, and other aspects. The toolset may include backup software, software for performance and security monitoring, DevOps, help desk, and more.

Best practice: For application performance monitoring, ScienceSoft chooses tools that provide insights into the software CPU and memory usage, transactions profiling, response time and request rates, an app’s handling poor network connectivity, etc.

Model 2: outsourced software maintenance

Vendor selection

Duration: 3-12 weeks

To choose the right vendor, you need to:

  • Examine top listings of software development companies as 90% of them offer maintenance services.
  • Shortlist 3-5 companies based on their adherence to ITSM and DevOps practices, relevant certifications, for example, ITIL, Microsoft certifications (e.g., MSP, MCSA), certifications issues by cloud providers (e.g., Certified Solution Architect, Certified SysOps Administrator by AWS), Red Hat certifications.
  • Prepare and send an RFP with software support and maintenance needs.
  • Get tailored offers from potential vendors and compare their approaches to the given software maintenance project, as well as relevant expertise.
ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft

Software maintenance and support launch

Duration: 1-5 days

Pre-launch stage

Before launching the maintenance and support process, the details of the required services should be formalized in a service level agreement (SLA). Depending on the scope of software maintenance and support services rendered, SLA may outline:

  • Software maintenance terms: software evolution roadmap, software performance requirements and expectations, planned security activities, KPIs, schedule, etc.
  • Software support terms: support hours e.g., 8/5, 12/5, 24/5, 24/7, required levels of support, size of a support team, communication channels, KPIs, etc.

Also, we work together with the customer to prepare standard operating procedures (SOPs) and instructions to stipulate all maintenance and support activities.

After-launch stage

We schedule regular maintenance windows for the preventive maintenance activities that can cause downtimes. These time intervals should always be available, even if not used each time.

At this stage, we also provide the customer with clear and detailed reports (e.g., reports on team productivity, service quality KPIs, incident reports, security audit reports), and a revised risk management strategy.

For the production environment in which end users operate, we schedule the maintenance windows on Sundays. And for the non-production environment that is used just for testing, for example, we set maintenance windows daily during the night hours.

IT Director at ScienceSoft

  • -1.5-2x

    software maintenance costs

  • -40%

    deployment time for software updates

  • -36%

    issues reported by users as proven by our real-life success stories

  • >97%

    user satisfaction rate

  • ScienceSoft's Success Stories

    Maintenance and Support of a Bio Lab Product Driving GSK and AstraZeneca

    Development, testing, customization, and support of applications for large pharmaceutical companies like GSK and AstraZeneca.

    Data Capture App Support for a UK Software Company

    NOC monitoring, multi-tier support (L1, L2, L3) and customization for the data capture platform.

    Remote IT Support for a US Telecommunications Services Provider

    Support and maintenance of multiple .NET-based web applications: troubleshooting, bug fixing, urgent introduction of changes upon request.

    L2, L3 Support of a Marketing Campaign Management Solution

    L2 and L3 support for software under ongoing development to keep it stable and promptly introduce new system components.

    Help Desk for End Users of Product Design Software

    24/7 support of end users of an innovative SaaS platform for creating 3D visualizations of product interior designs.

    SharePoint Farm Maintenance and Support for a UK Local Authority

    Maintaining the sustainability of the SharePoint intranet, resolving critical issues and boost its overall performance.

    Help Desk Services for an Ecommerce App

    12/5 helpdesk services, creation of a knowledge base for support and maintenance documentation, training for the ecommerce app’s users.

    ScienceSoft as a Trusted Software Support and Maintenance Provider

    For the past 6 years, ScienceSoft has been a reliable partner in supporting and maintaining our HR software product. They have fixed hundreds of bugs in the product’s performance since the start of our cooperation back in 2016 and keep modernizing HR on our demand, introducing new features and tweaking existing functionality to let us better cater to our growing client base. […] Communication with ScienceSoft was always fast and solution-oriented. Their developers are highly motivated and skilled.

    Peter Hermann, CEO , ZEITundZUTRITT GmbH

    Typical Roles in Our Software Maintenance Teams

    Depending on software maintenance and upgrade scope, the team may include various IT specialists, from developers to UI designers. Below, we describe the backbone talents required for the project involving both on-demand and continuous support activities:

    Help desk specialists

    • Receiving, registering, and tracking queries from software users.
    • Solving simple and repeating issues (e.g., username and password problems, installing newly released patches and service packs).
    • Escalating unsolved issues to L2/L3.

    Application support engineers

    • Continuous software monitoring and health checks.
    • Fixing application performance issues.
    • Resolving software configuration and account administration issues.
    • Log investigation for root cause analysis of issues.
    • Database administration.

    Software developers

    • Fixing issues on the code and database levels.
    • Creating new software components or features.
    • Implementing software customizations, integrations, and performing migrations.
    • Unit testing.

    Test engineers

    • Functional, regression, integration, and other types of testing to validate the quality and security of software after introducing the required changes.

    DevOps engineers

    • Automating the update and evolution processes using the CI/CD approach.
    • Managing physical and virtual servers and their configurations.
    • Configuring and optimizing cloud services.
    • Solving infrastructure issues.

    Consider Professional Software Maintenance Services

    With over a decade of experience in software support and IT service management (ITSM), ScienceSoft offers the following service options:

    Maintenance and support process setup

    We analyze your software specifics and support needs, design the process, deliver a detailed setup plan, help choose a suitable sourcing model, create a support team, and select an optimal toolset.

    I Need This!

    Outsourced software maintenance and support

    Our team takes over L1/L2, L3/L4, or L1/L2/L3/L4; proactive software monitoring, detecting, fixing latent issues; infrastructure maintenance and support. We rely on a detailed SLA.

    I Need This!
    • 33 years in IT, 700+ experts on board.
    • 15 years in software support services and help desk, 14 years in ITSM.
    • Happy customers from 70+ countries globally: the US, Western Europe, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, etc.
    • 9 Microsoft Gold Competencies, including Application Development and Integration, Data Platform, Data Analytics, Collaboration and Content.
    • AWS Select Services Partner.
    • IBM Business Partner.
    • 76% of revenue is from long-term contracts.
    • Established ITIL 4 processes and practices.
    • ISO 9001-certified quality management system; data safety as per ISO 27001.
    • Experience with complex, large-scale apps.

    Technologies We Use for Software Maintenance and Support

    Ticketing systems

    Monitoring tools

    Zabbix
    Nagios Core
    Prometheus
    Elastic Stack
    Grafana
    Datadog

    Platforms

    Remote collaboration

    Connection

    VPN
    RPD
    TeamViewer

    Communication

    Skype
    Zoom
    GoToMeeting

    DevOps tools

    Containerization

    Docker
    Kubernetes
    Red Hat OpenShift
    Apache Mesos

    Automation

    Ansible
    Puppet
    Chef
    Saltstack
    HashiCorp Terraform
    HashiCorp Packer

    CI/CD tools

    AWS Developer Tools
    Azure DevOps
    Google Developer Tools
    GitLab CI/CD
    Jenkins
    TeamCity

    Clouds

    Back end programming languages

    Front end programming languages

    Languages

    HTML5
    CSS

    JavaScript frameworks

    MeteorJS
    Vue.js
    Next.js
    Ember.js

    Mobile

    Databases / data storages

    SQL

    Microsoft SQL Server
    MySQL
    Azure SQL Database
    Oracle
    PostgreSQL

    NoSQL

    Apache NiFi
    MongoDB

    Software Maintenance and Support Costs

    Usually, software maintenance and support costs are around 15–20% of the initial development costs (per year), and in total (during the entire software life cycle) they can be as high as 90% of the TCO. Monthly software maintenance costs can range from $5,000 to $50,000+, depending on app type and the required maintenance activities.

    Cost factors

    The support and maintenance costs vary a lot depending on the sourcing model. The general cost factors for software maintenance and support services are:

    • The type of software maintenance (corrective, adaptive, perfective, preventive; on-demand, continuous, both).
    • The type of software, its complexity, integrations and customizations, etc.
    • The software availability requirements.
    • The maintenance team’s composition, competencies, and workload, e.g., 5 FTE (168h*5), 1 FTE (168h), 0.25 FTE (40h).
    • Time coverage (e.g., 8/5, 12/5, 24/5, 24/7).
    • The number of software users.
    • Availability of comprehensive software documentation required for maintenance.

    In addition, ScienceSoft recommends considering cost factors specific to the chosen sourcing model:

    In-house software maintenance

    • Licenses for configuration, help desk, and other tools used by the team.
    • Investments in the in-house staff training.
    • Regular payment of salaries and fringe benefits, tax payments, etc.

    Outsourced software maintenance

    • The pricing model (per ticket, bucket of hours).
    • The number of help desk tickets (agreed and extra).

    About ScienceSoft

    ScienceSoft is a global IT consulting and services provider headquartered in McKinney, TX. We offer application maintenance and support services and help our customers set up robust software maintenance and support process. Being ISO 9001- and ISO 27001-certified, we rely on a mature quality management system and guarantee that cooperation with us does not pose any risks to our customers' data security.